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04 January 2015 @ 09:12 pm
Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries: Week Sixteen: Dalcha  
Looking up the translation, meat with lentils, as it book calls it, is pretty accurate.

I always forget what lentils are. Whenever softlykarou mentions cooking with them, I have to pause and search through my memory before I remember whether I'll be okay eating them or not. It's not quite as bad as with pralines, where I always think they're some kind of fish, but when I read the title of this curry I was a bit hesitant. But that's happened enough times at this point that I just figured I'd wait and see what happened, since on the balance, this has been a pretty good cookbook.

That's the most colorful ingredient set we've had in a while!

The first bite I took was really good, with an intense spicy flavor, but apparently that was just because I bit into a pepper and the rest of it was much milder. Still hotter than previous curries, though, because softlykarou was a bit dissatisfied with how spicy the other curries had been and had bought Thai chilis to add instead of red chilis. The lentils added a kind of mealy texture that I wasn't very fond of--part of the reason I like Thai curry so much is that I like the thick liquid that makes up the sauce--but it wasn't too bad, and it mostly just reminded me of a chunkier curry like palak gosht. softlykarou told me that she was supposed to soak the beans for four hours, and while we are moving curry night to Sundays to give the recipes more time, we still didn't quite plan for that.

Maybe it's because she substituted chickpeas in for the toor dal that it came out chunkier than I would have thought? We had the chana dal, and that did dissolve mostly into a slurry, but at least visually, the chickpeas were still distinguishable in the curry. Oh well. It wasn't actually that bad.

The recipe book says that:
Dalcha has a sourish tang with herbal overtones of curry leaves and fresh cilantro
...and at least in this case, that's 100% apt.  photo emot-golfclap.gif

The lentils working their magic.

Words from the Chef
I cut out a significant amount of water in this curry. Maybe that's how the recipies seem smaller than the serving suggested in the recipe. I was excited to work with lentils. They're a food I've gotten away from. The last time i made anything like a dal puree was before I was married and I had no idea how to work with Indian spices and some of them we didn't even own. I also bought a different kind of chili from the one that I've been buying. The East Asian grocery store had both curry leaves and Thai green chilies. Those added an incredible bite and satisfying spice. For the first time in a long time, my eyes watered as they cooked with the onions. I liked this curry a lot in spite of my inital hesitation. My puree wasn't perfect but I think the occasional whole chickpea gave it more texture. Overall I was very pleased with this curry and the easy pace that the move to Sunday night gave me. Letting things cook for the full amount of time was a huge improvement I think.

This picture has an air of mystery, don't you think?

The picture showed it with rice, but with it already having lentils we wanted some more vegetables and had some cabbage and carrots on the side. I think it would have actually gone better with sautéed spinach or another green leafy vegetable, both for the contrasting textures and just for the taste. I really like sautéed spinach. It's part of why I loved palak gosht so much.

I was a bit worried that it would taste like seyal gosht, but it was much richer than that. I'm not sure if that's because softlykarou included all of the oil that the recipe called for, because she made sure to cook it for longer (we ate at 7 o'clock, when our usual dinner time is closer to 5:30 or 6), some other factor I'm not considering, or a combination of all three. It didn't have the harshness of seyal gosht, though, being a much smoother blend with only the occasional bit of chickpea to draw my attention away from the curry as a whole. Even the bits of meat didn't stand out too much, which sounds bad but which I'd actually consider a sign of a curry whose flavors are properly mixed.

All that color and it turned out looking like seyal gosht.

I think I might want to try this again with the rice. While we were originally worried about getting too many starches, I poked around the internet and apparently chana dal has a very low glycemic load, so throwing in some tumeric rice on the side--or maybe the saffron rice that we just bought today--would go over well. Maybe we'll have saffron rice next week.

Would I Eat It Again?: Yes, assuming I can remember what lentils are.  photo emot-psyduck.gif
Do I Prefer It to the Usual Thai Curry?: No. It was pretty good, but the lentil oddness put me just a bit off.
What Would I Change?: See if we can get toor dal and try it that way, to see if the substitution is what I disliked. Also, eat it with rice.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Current Music: The History Chicks podcast